UPDATE: The Clark County Judge-Executive on Friday signed an executive order banning individual fireworks. The ban is for all of Clark County. The order says the ban also includes any and all outdoor burning including campfires, bonfires, warming fires, and open pit cooking.
The signs are up reminding everyone of the Freedom Festival coming up this weekend in Winchester. There's just one catch, the fireworks that are advertised won't be lighting up the night sky.
"It's certainly a disappointment, but when it comes to involving people's property, their homes, and even lives, it's pretty much a given," said Gary Brown, the pastor at the Winchester First Church of God, which hosts the event.
For several years, the church has welcomed more than 2,000 guests as they come out for a concert, fireworks, and fun. This year, the show will go on, but with out the same bang.
Brown said the organizers had been in touch with county officials and decided to set aside the fireworks for now.
"Who knows with the wind blowing, as dry as everything is, safety prevails."
The church's display isn't the only celebration to get sidelined. The city's big celebration at Lykins Park, on July 3rd, has also been cut because of the dry weather.
"It was just the smartest thing to do," said Jeff Lewis, the director of the Parks and Recreation Department.
Lewis explained that the city, like the church, had been in talks with the county before deciding to drop the event all together. The park, like most of Central Kentucky, is dry and the fear is that a small spark from the fireworks or even a cigarette would be enough to cause damage.
"We discussed the possibility of watering down the field, and we would've done that had we had an opportunity to move forward, but it's been just so dry that it really would've taken so much to do that," described Lewis, adding, "I think everybody understands."
"If it's not safe to do it, don't do it," said Andy Cizck, who is also a vendor at a fireworks stand.
"It means that's something we don't get to do on the Fourth of July, we've got to find other things to do," added O.C. Smith when he learned of the canceled celebrations.
While the big shows have been set aside for now, the county has yet to ban the fireworks although that decision could come as soon as Friday. Even without the ban, some sellers are saying that business has been lacking.
"Sales have been a little bit slower," stated Cizck, "the heat has been a factor."
For now both the church and the city are hopeful to reschedule the fireworks show for another night at the end of the summer. The First Church of God is still having their 10K run Saturday morning and the concert that night.
Clark County is under a burn ban because of the dry conditions and hot weather, and that may mean there won't be any fireworks to light up the night sky in Winchester for some time.
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